Yemisi Aribisala

Yemisi Aribisala
Author profile. Photo by Helena Krige.
Born Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà
(1973-04-27)27 April 1973
Nationality Nigerian
Other names Yemisi Ogbe
Alma mater University of Wolverhampton, University of Wales
Occupation Writer

Yemisi Aribisala (born 27 April 1973), formerly Yẹ́misí Ogbe, is a Nigerian essayist, writer and food memoirist. She has been described as having a "fearless, witty, and unapologetic voice", named one of seven bold and new international voices.[1]

She is renowned for her work in documenting Nigerian food as an entry point to thinking and understanding the culture and society. Her first book, Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex, and the Nigerian Taste Buds, won the John Avery Prize at the André Simon Book Awards 2016.[2][3]

She currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her children.[4][5]


Life and careerEdit

Aribisala attended the University of Wolverhampton, England, where she obtained a law degree in 1995. She subsequently earned a master's in Legal Aspects of Maritime Affairs and International Transport from the University of Wales, Cardiff, in 1997.


She was the founding editor of the trailblazing Nigerian literary and culture magazine Farafina Magazine.

From 2009 to 2011, she was the food columnist at the now defunct, groundbreaking 234Next newspaper, where she first gained public attention, writing under the name "Yẹ́misí Ogbe".

She regularly contributes to literary publications, including the Chimurenga Chronicle, the avant-garde culture newspaper.

Longthroat MemoirsEdit

On 31 October 2016, her debut book of essays was published by Cassava Republic Press in Nigeria. It was titled Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex, and the Nigerian Taste Buds, a collection of essays exploring “the cultural politics and erotics of Nigerian cuisine”.[6] It has been well received.

Of her work the following has been said: "It is difficult to translate senses through words, but Aribisala manages to communicate the tastes, tickles and aromas of various African spices and ingredients wonderfully."[7] The book has been described as "part straight cookbook, part cultural history, part travelogue, part intimate confessional, it's as complex and mysterious as one of the Nigerian soups Aribisala describes so evocatively in its pages"[8] and a work "that carries the weight of so much cultural and literary burden, and manages to discharge it with grace and style."[9] "[S]he joins thinkers like Chinua Achebe in rejecting the stereotype of the African writer as a mere storyteller, not a thinker."[10]

She has been compared to writers like Aminatta Forna and Binyavanga Wainaina who "play with the ontology of the 21st century African memoir, and oscillate between the deeply personal and the distinctly political"; a book that is a “mouth-watering appraisal of the cultural politics and erotics of Nigerian cuisine”.[11] The pages [of her book] sing with her clever, beautiful prose and sharp eye.[12]

The cover image was designed by UK-based artist Lynn Hatzius, who said her intention with the cover artwork was "to show how food culture is an ingrained part of us. It grows over years and is passed on through generations forming an integral part of a person’s identity. Food doesn’t simply still our hunger, it reaches deeper, it touches the soul and awakens memories and emotions that warm our hearts. Taste can be very individual, but in all cultures it brings people together, to dine, to talk, to share. I wanted the cover image to convey the joy of this and to invite the reader into Yemisi Aribisala’s own celebration of food."[13]

Prizes and honoursEdit

In January 2017, her debut book Longthroat Memoirs won the John Avery Prize at the André Simon Book Awards 2016.[2][3]

In March 2017, Aribisala was listed as one of the 100 inspiring women in Nigeria in 2017.[14]

Selected writingsEdit

  • "Sister Outsider" (April 2016)[15] at The Chimurenga Chronic
  • "Nigeria's New Feminism – Say-You-Are-One-Of-Us-Or-Else" (October 2016)[16] at KTravula
  • "Mother Hunger" (November 2015)[17] on Medium
  • "Fish Soup as Love Potions"[18] at The Chimurenga Chronic
  • "Nollywood Kiss"[19] (2011) at The Chimurenga Chronic
  • "Giving It All Away in English" (March 2015)[20] at The Chimurenga Chronic
  • "High Heeled Fork" (December 2015)[21] on Medium
  • "Birthing The American" (December 2013)[22] at The Chimurenga Chronic
  • "Americanah And Other Definitions of Supple Citizenships"'
  • "Nigeria's Superstar Men of God" (April, 2013) [23] at The Chimurenga Chronic
  • "Why I Write So Slowly" (September 2013)[24] at Cassava Republic Press
  • "Nigeria and a Culture of Disrespect" (August 2012)[25] at Ikhide Ikheloa's blog
  • "That Guy No Be Ordinary" (April 2016)[26] at Chimurenga Chronic

Notable Interviews/ExcerptsEdit

  • "My repression is as legitimate as your freedom”: A Conversation with Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà on[27]
  • ‘People try to squeeze Nigerian food into an all-encompassing African label’ | Book Excerpt in The Guardian UK[28]
  • Q&A with TheGannet[29]



  1. ^ "Sarah Ladipo Manyika's Seven Bold And New International Voices". Vela. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  2. ^ a b "Yemisi Aribisala becomes first black African to win John Avery award". TheCable Lifestyle. 2017-01-26. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b "2015 Andre Simon Book Awards – the annual awards for food and drink books.". Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  4. ^ Michael Banjo, "‘Yemisi’s witty writing will transport you into the fantastic universe of Nigerian food and culture", African Cuisine Magazine, 2 November 2016.
  5. ^ Maria Tumolo, "An interview with Yemisi Aribisala author of ‘Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds’", The Tiger Tales, 30 November 2016.
  6. ^ Fick, Maggie (27 November 2016). "Publisher's expansion brings Nigerian writers to world stage". Financial Times. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  7. ^ Stier, Jordan (30 October 2015). "Reading like a writer: An annotated reading list". Stier of the Nation. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  8. ^ "In Praise of Longthroat Memoirs: Meeting the Person of Nigerian Food – Marta Maretich". Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  9. ^ "A Book for the Tasting - Village Factor". Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  10. ^ "Nigeria is not a country: Of ogbono, snails, sex, eccles, and hell's longing". Ikhide. 2017-02-05. Retrieved 2017-02-06. 
  11. ^ Goyal, Sana (2017-02-17). "Africa, not a single story". Retrieved 2017-02-18.  External link in |newspaper= (help)
  12. ^ "Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds". Pen & Spoon. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  13. ^ "Yemisi Aribisala's 'Longthroat Memoirs' A Book About Soups, Sex And Nigerian Taste Buds". Farabale Weekly. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  14. ^ "Amina Mohammed, Mo Abudu, Somkele Idhalama & more! and Leading Ladies Africa present the 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria - YNaija". YNaija. 2017-03-08. Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  15. ^ "Sister Outsider | The Chimurenga Chronic". Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  16. ^ "Nigeria's New Feminism – Say-You-Are-One-Of-Us-Or-Else". ktravula – a travelogue!. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  17. ^ Aribisala, Yemisi (7 November 2015). "Mother Hunger". Medium. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  18. ^ "Fish Soup As Love Potions | The Chimurenga Chronic". Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  19. ^ "Nollywood Kiss". PowerMoneySex. 2012-06-11. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  20. ^ "Giving It All Away in English | The Chimurenga Chronic". Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  21. ^ Aribisala, Yemisi (15 December 2015). "High Heeled Fork – General Writing: Idea, Thinking, Opinion". Medium. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  22. ^ "Birthing the American | The Chimurenga Chronic". Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  23. ^ "Nigeria's Superstar Men of God | The Chimurenga Chronic". Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  24. ^ "Cassava Republic Press – Why I Write So Slowly, by Yemisi Ogbe". Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  25. ^ "Guest Blog: Yemisi Ogbe on Nigeria and a culture of disrespect". Ikhide. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  26. ^ ""That Guy No Be Ordinary" | The Chimurenga Chronic". Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  27. ^ ""My repression is as legitimate as your freedom": A Conversation with Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà -". 2017-02-20. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  28. ^ Aribisala, Yemisi (2017-02-04). "'People try to squeeze Nigerian food into an all-encompassing African label'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  29. ^ "The Gannet Q&A: Yemisi Aribisala | The Gannet". The Gannet. 2017-03-16. Retrieved 2017-03-16. 
  30. ^ "Calabar Winch | The Chimurenga Chronic". Retrieved 2017-04-06. 
  31. ^ "A Book for the Tasting". Village Factor. 2017-01-21. Retrieved 2017-04-06.